Update: What I’m Reading on Suleimani

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what I’m reading. Over the years, these pundits, professors, and professionals have demonstrated that they offer sound analysis, timely interpretations, and wise insight into events with a backdrop or historical, cultural, and additional relevance.

Also, for context, I am not suggesting there will be an Iranian missile attack or an American ground invasion of Iran. Not impossible, but highly improbable. But this raises the already likely specter of confrontation to even more dangerous levels. And, lest we forget, these type of things can easily get loose from the grasp of control and spiral even more downhill quickly. There has already been a war by proxy with Iran for years, and an indirect confrontation by covert, economic, and cyber means. This is likely to increase, potentially into a semi-hot conflict that doesn’t bode well for the region or America.

Iran is a nefarious nemesis that needs our attention. But we need to reconstitute diplomacy, not tear up binding and working international agreements (JCPOA). We need to use our economic, cyber, covert, and alliance advantages, not rely on stupid and rash targeted assassinations against a state actor. We need to stop the chest-thumping saber ratting that gets us into war messes like Iraq 2003. We need to coordinate with an experienced government bureaucracy and national security establishment, not have a President that is surrounded by “yes” men inexperienced with the region and military/state peculiarities.

Here’s a good list so far:

Daniel Byman here. David Sanger here. Peter Bergen here. Andy Exum here. Robin Wright here. The Economist here. On our failed Middle East strategy…again. On US and Iran under Trump. Foreign Policy’s view. On Suleimani’s history and power. Wash Post article. On how his death is celebrated among many (of course he was a bad dude too). Slavin at the Atlantic Council. Always following David Ignatius, Vali Nasr, and pods like Lawfare, Rational Security, and Bombshell. Stay tuned…

Quick Response to Suleimani Killing

Trump’s rash and stupidly whimsical escalation of tensions with Iran in the Middle East just went from bad to worse, by a wholly unnecessary and dangerous U.S. strike that killed Iranian Quds Force Commander Suleimani. A beloved figure with a cult-like following not just in Iran, but across the Shia region, his death will require a response – whether by the regime or by Shia followers.

When things like this happen, no one can tell the future. Sometimes things blow over, sometimes they don’t. This killing of a major figure in Shia, regional, and Iranian religious/military/political affairs is likely to have staying power. This is not a good path for the region and for an already escalating conflict that never needed to happen. This is much of Trump’s own making.


A Highlight From Washington’s Farewell Address

I was looking over Washington’s Farewell Address for another project, and I was struck by one section I found to be particularly prescient with regard to political parties and foreign influence:

“Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. 

“It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.” (1796)